Addison Lee, a pioneer of iPhone “taxi apps” has rounded on a raft of copycat services which have come onto the market, claiming they can’t be trusted.
The minicab company launched its own smartphone app for booking minicabs to coincide with the first iPhone in 2007 and was featured on the original adverts for Apple’s handset.
Peter Ingram, IT director at Addison Lee has taken a dim view of the dozens of taxi apps, such as Hailo, Uber and GetTaxi, that have rushed to enter the British market. “I’ve seen 26 apps relevant to black cabs and minicabs but none of them have a fleet. They’re just middlemen,” he said.
He argued that they can tell a user a cab is two minutes away but cannot lock the driver into accepting the fare. “When its raining, there’s people hailing cabs on every corner. The cabbie just pulls over for the fare and cancels the other booking. These apps don’t have control of that moment.”
Moving into the smartphone sector early has proved a success and Addison Lee expects to take £50 million in revenue from its iPhone app this year. It has already taken £33 million this year, compared to £23 million for the whole of 2011, with a quarter of all its bookings now made over an iPhone.
Mr Ingram said half of Addison Lee’s bookings come from iPhones on a Saturday night. “We see this as the future. In the next couple of years I can’t see any reason why we won’t get to 70 per cent.”
The app allows Addison Lee to lower its costs as it does not need to hire as many staff to take bookings manually.
Some of Silicon Valley’s biggest investors have backed the new generation of taxi apps but Mr Ingram remains unconcerned by the threat. “The Addison Lee app doesn’t look as sexy as the other, but it is functional,” he said.
The cab company is set to invest in producing a better version of its app for the Windows and Android operating systems but will spurn the new BlackBerry platform as it does not expect sufficient demand.
The company’s booking statistics provide a fascinating insight into how different smartphone owners use apps. Addison Lee is taking almost 6,500 bookings a day from iPhone customers compared to 1,000 for BlackBerry, 500 for Android and a paltry 20 from Windows.
Mr Ingram said it is willing to back Windows as Microsoft is working with the company on its development and he hopes that usage from Android will begin to pick up.
Source: The Times